Daily Archives: July 30, 2013

The Scope of Third Sector Organisations

Venn diagram showing 3 overlapping circles

We usually think about the three sectors; statutory, private and third sector organisations, from a national top-down perspective and so perhaps see a greater separation between them than we find in neighbourhoods.  All three sectors are part of the ecology of a healthy neighbourhood and so we need to understand how they interact and contribute to public well-being.

The diagram represents the three sectors, and the potential for interaction between them.  They can all play a vital role in a neighbourhood, providing jobs and social spaces where community can grow.

Third Sector Organisations

Third sector organisations (a) are not easy to define because people use the term to cover a ragbag of everything that is neither statutory nor private sector.  Personal contributions of time or money, eg through faith and community groups, grant aid and support for social aims through trading commonly fund third sector organisations.

Statutory Organisations

Statutory sector organisations (b), might be working for the local authority, the NHS or the police, for example.  National government may also be active through various schemes.

Grant Aided Community Organisations

There are not so many type (d) organisations these days, where statutory funding aids voluntary organisations.  This type of organisation has been very common over the last few decades but is not so common in an age of government cuts.  Some people criticise government funding as a contested use of tax-payers money.  For certain purposes it is vital for the welfare of our communities.  However, there are many issues where government funding supports local regeneration and vigorous debate about the implications of this approach is long overdue.

Private Sector Organisations

There will also be private sector organisations (c), from self-employed people and small businesses through to large companies and multinationals.  Where the latter are present in an area, they can be the source of many jobs.  Or else they may be present as branches of supermarkets or other chains.  A local trader might provide a vital service, at the heart of a neighbourhood and so, whilst clearly not third sector, is relevant when assessing the assets of an area, for example, a local café whose proprietor encourages community meetings.

Community Businesses

Community businesses are type (e) organisations, which aim to generate income for social aims through trade.  Other local businesses can become type e from the private sector side, for example by forming small business mutuals to support enterprise in a neighbourhood.

Development Trusts

Section (g) combines elements of all 3 sectors.  In the UK these are usually some sort of development trust.  They aim to develop an independent asset base within a neighbourhood.  In practice most seem to combine grants with trade and deployment of assets.  Some seem to be surviving the cuts and so perhaps the model has staying power.

In future posts I shall look in turn at the various types of organisation found in our communities.